Egypt's Minister of Higher Education seeks to combat “brain drain”: Interview



Sun, 23 Apr 2017 - 08:08 GMT


Sun, 23 Apr 2017 - 08:08 GMT

Minister of Higher Education- Archive

Minister of Higher Education- Archive

CAIRO – 23 April 2017: Egypt’s Ministry of Higher Education has a clear vision to run scientific research in economic terms, and the education system needs complete reform, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel- Ghaffar told Egypt Today, Saturday.

Elevating scientific research from “randomness” to a strategic tool:

Sixty five days into office, Ghaffar stated he started his mission by pointing out the reasons why “Egypt is in a position below what it deserves” and looking into the means to develop scientific research.

“Egypt has great manpower and brilliant minds in the field of research, yet this not reflected in the economy or the development of the country,” Gaffar said, stressing that reality is incompatible with the available resources. He added that the budget allocated for scientific research is not adequately exploited, clarifying that only one quarter of the designated budgets are put into use.

Egypt has over 136,000 researchers working as university professors and at research institutes, the Ministermentioned, adding that new generations have even better chances due to their openness to the world.

Moreover, Ghaffar confirmed that the ministry is working on several solutions to develop scientific research. The first is coming up with a clear vision that ties scientific research to the needs of the country, such as water, energy and improving agricultural crops. “We have reached out for the different ministries and sectors, asking them to state how we can benefit them with scientific research,” Ghaffar said, explaining that the next step will be working with universities and colleges to focus on these issues, so that at least 80 per cent of the researches are directed towards a specific problem.

The minister also referred to a new legislation, which aims at encouraging universities and the private sector to invest in scientific research. The law will contribute in “creating a culture where the community is aware that investment or donation in favor of scientific research is a big part of state development,” Ghaffar stated. He added that the private sector and researchers will both benefit as well, as the latter will have the right to get up to 10 per cent of the project or the company shares afterwards.

Combating brain drain

“Almost EGP 600 million is dedicated to student scholarships abroad. Some do not come back and those who do manipulate the law to work abroad,” Ghaffar stated, stressing that Egypt spends money on these students, and they eventually benefit the universities they go to or the countries where they travel.

The situation calls for a solution to halt the “brain drain,” Ghaffar said. The procedures underway include preparing a binding contract that guarantees the return of students and setting up “technological incubators” to provide them with a suitable environment uponreturn.

Amending the universities admission system

When asked about plans to improve public universities’ admission and enrollment system, Ghaffar stated that the impairment is not in the system, but in the whole educational process, which “evaluates the student based on how he is on the morning of the exam.”

Public universities’ admission system, which is based on Thanaweyya Amma scores (General Secondary Education Certification), has been highly criticized for being inadequate in evaluating students and their actual capabilities.

“To change university systems, we have to look at the whole process first … rote learning is far from critical thinking,” the Minister said. “We are coordinating with the Ministry of Technical Training and Education to develop a cumulative evaluation system” that will reflect the real capabilities of the student.

Based on the latest statistics, there are 3,100,000 students enrolled in the higher education system in Egypt.



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